Change the way you love each other forever.
I am terrible at buying gifts for the men I love period, but combine that with the fact that I am a chronic gift-shopping procrastinator and it's no surprise that here we are, Valentine's Day, and I still haven't gotten my boyfriend the perfect Valentine's Day gift.
Or, like, ANY Valentine's Day gift at all.
It's not entirely my fault. I really wanted to buy my beloved penis-haver a special token of my esteem, but every store I go into or website I visit seems to have the same exact gift guide for men this Valentine's Day. Great in theory, but not so much in practice.
Because those gift guides only apply if you happen to be dating a real-life lumberjack who also enjoys fine automobiles and the science of mixology and oiling his facial hair and ironic rock n' roll and maybe feminism.
I don't know about you, but, if I bought my boyfriend a flask or some manner of bespoke hatchet for Valentine's Day, he might break up with me simply for not knowing who he actually is. Frankly, I would not blame him. Doing that to him would be like if he bought me a gift certificate to Jenny Craig — a deep and personal betrayal.
It doesn't matter how well a gift-guide is curated because, unless you are dating one very specific type of person, they are almost always going to make your kind gesture ring hollow and not so genuine. While this might sound funny coming from my jaded lips (or fingers, I guess) I'd rather not buy my boyfriend a Valentine's Day gift at all, if the only other alternative was buying him something that didn't MEAN anything to him.
But there's no reason to freak out just yet (or so I have been desperately telling myself for the last, oh, ten hours or so).
Let's say it's February 14th (uh, because it is) and you're frantically trying to order whatever garbage Amazon Prime Now products can get your dude's door before the clock strikes midnight and Valentine's Day 2017 is over forever. Best case scenario — he'll open a brown box with a stick of deodorant and maybe that last box of Russell Stover in the Western hemisphere that comes looking like it's already been picked over.
This Valentine's Day, do the right thing for your man AND for your relationship. Chill the eff out, stop at the local bodega, and get a six-pack and some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
Once you're home, I want you to drink one of those beers and eat one of those peanut butter cups and think about the way you love your boyfriend, husband, or partner. Catalog what you love about him — the goofy way he talks to the dog when he's getting ready in the morning or the sweet patch of hair on the back of his head that always defies gravity no matter what he tries.
Now, think about all the things he does that drive you absolutely bananas. The way he is always putting away his dirty socks like they're clean, his refusal to replace the toilet paper roll, the way he can zone and not hear a word you're saying.
I want you now to think about how both of your lives would change if, instead of letting the things that drive you nuts about your partner send you off to simmer in quiet resentment or rage, you decided to EMBRACE all of him in the spirit of love.
Yup, that's right, unconditional love.
Now quick, get that beer on ice and prep the other peanut butter cup because he's home and you're about to rock his world by sharing with him your Valentine's Day gift. What is it? It's a new way of relating to other, one that helps you see your partner for who they truly are.
This concept is called "Radical Acceptance" and, while it might not have the appeal of a box of chocolate truffles or the hipster allure of a chic metal flask, the transformative power of unconditional love — practiced in a real-life way with your partner — can alter your life FOREVER. Trust me, it makes a way, way better gift than artisan beard oil.
I first encountered the concept while reading Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love, an amazing new book by YourTango founder Andrea Miller. (Am I biased? Sure, but it's still pretty fantastic — and available for pre-order.)
In the simplest way possible, Radical Acceptance just means loving your partner, but not just the good parts. You commit to loving ALL of them, even the parts that kind of drive you crazy.
There's a passage in the book that explains it better than I can:
"To radically accept someone means: 'I love you right here, right now. I have your back, no matter what. I know your flaws, failures, and shortcomings—and I still love you. I will not resent or resist them. Instead, I will extend tenderness to them.'"
And the idea is ... if you can do that for your man, he can find a way to do the exact same thing to you.
THAT is the perfect Valentine's gift, right? The biggest win-win ever — two people loving each other warts and all, because they know those warts are pretty damn cute and neither person would be the same without them.
That's so much better than a flask or whatever you can scrounge from the CVS Valentine's aisle before they turn it over for St. Patrick's Day and Easter. This Valentine's Day, CHOOSE to take the leap and love your partner in the bravest way possible. Give him or her THAT gift. It will make the most memorable V-Day you've ever had.